Content Advisory: This game features a small-minded character who uses several vicious slurs against the LGBTQ community. Discretion is advised.
In The Astronauts' highly anticipated indie horror adventure game The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, it's every parent's worst nightmare when, as the title suggests, young Ethan Carter goes missing. Before his disappearance, he'd been sending you letters... you, Paul Prospero, a detective with a reputation for the occult. Nobody believed the things Ethan told them about... not the police, not the priests... but you did. Now you've come to his hometown of Red Creek, which looks like a quiet, obscenely picturesque, yet oddly quiet, town set deep in the forest, but looks can be deceiving. Billed as a "non-linear narrative", The Vanishing of Ethan Carter offers little to no direction when it drops you unceremoniously into the game, and it's entirely up to you to figure out where to go, follow your own clues and leads, and solve puzzles with minimal obvious direction. It's a slow, thoughtful experience with abstract puzzles and a heavy focus on storytelling in a gorgeous, immersive environment, made more for fans of subtle, classic horror than splashy, flashy scares and thrills. Though only a few hours long and lacking in replay value, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an extraordinarily beautiful and unsettling piece of narrative fiction that uses some knock-out imagery and shocking events to take you along for the ride.